On Selfies

My Daily Digital Alchemies:

On Selfies

After doing some quick maths, I’ve concluded that the average number of selfies I have taken per year average around 3.5.

Compare that to some people, where 3.5 is the daily average.

No, it’s not necessarily either one of us that’s doing something wrong, but rather that both represent opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to selfies, that magical term for taking pictures of yourself at regular intervals. But why do some find it compelling, whereas I find it as an excuse to update my profile pictures on social media.

My knee-jerk reaction is “vanity”, but I know that if selfies could kill I’d be destroyed several times over at that reasoning. Besides, it’s not like it takes copious amounts of time to set up one; just however fast it takes to boot up your camera on your smartphone and swap to the front-facing camera. But selfies have been becoming a progressively more important part of our society in recent years, and I think it can be argued it’s for the better.

Self-image is a very precious thing in this day and age, where people can and will judge you for just about everything, even something as simple as the way you look. A selfie represents independence, but more importantly it represents a sense of being the person you want to be seen as. After all, you typically have plenty of time to look at, review, and edit a selfie before potentially posting it for everyone to see. Why shouldn’t you feel empowered with that type of control over your self-image?

How I view myself, ideally.

When I think about it, the whole reason I feel allergic to selfies is because I don’t feel like I need necessarily want to put myself out there any more than I already am. Potential jobs could be watching after all, and if I get turned down because of one particular selfie that I probably shouldn’t have posted, I’d feel like that would be quite ironic.

The Google Arts and Culture app was a nice exercise in learning more about how selfies can sometimes allow people (and the government) to make connections about yourself, a least from a visual standpoint. You never really tend to think you look like someone, well until you do anyway. And I do think this resemblance is quite flatter, even if it’s only half right:

Monocle not required.

I’m still a bit cautious when it comes to selfies, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not opening up.

And of course, couldn’t have a blog on selfies without one of my own, now could I? Here, I’ll share one now as I type this:

Whoa, that looks quite good, actually. Maybe I can get used to this after all. And if the current trend of selfies continues, something tells me I might have to. Could be worse though. Could’ve been holding up my phone to a mirror to get a picture, now THOSE were the selfie dark ages.

AHH DON’T LOOK
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On Dank Memes

My memes:
http://make.arganee.world/examples/acting-for-two/
http://make.arganee.world/examples/who-would-win-a-who-would-win/

My daily digital alchemies:

I never thought in all of my years of schooling, that I would be able to say the following words.

I’m doing a writing assignment on dank memes.

IMG_0462

Sure, that may be limited to our class time and this blog post, but it’s quite insightful to see just how far the internet, and the memes that came with it, have come in recent years.

Perhaps the most compelling thing about a meme is the timing. They’re partially defined by the times, and that’s why there’s typically a meme or two of the month that the internet decides on. Last month it was Ugandan Knuckles and (unfortunately) Tide Pods. Who knows what it could be this month?

And to an extent, this month’s meme has already been decided. Like most memes, it’s defined by the hobbies and interests of the internet community, as well as current events. Justin Timberlake taking a selfie with a hapless fan was a current event with some potential behind it, so it made sense due to the time and place. And that’s what most memes are: times and places.

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Relevant.

But on an even greater scale, memes define the generation who creates them. It’s an insight onto what’s funny now, or even what wasn’t that funny in the past that’s meme-worthy now. Some like the Tide Pods are unfortunately a byproduct of what happens when a meme gets carried away and some people don’t get the joke, but overall what makes a meme so compelling is the different backgrounds that just about every one of them had.

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If only they knew how funny this would be to everyone, 79 years later.

Memes come and go, but for the glorious period of time when they’re at their peak, they’re memorable for a reason. They became viral over potentially countless other ones and they’re sometimes our ticket to discovering each other, after all I find some memes hilarious that some people can’t stand whatsoever, and vice-versa. But perhaps most importantly, they’re funny, and with good reason. People are humorous by nature and like to be humored. The world typically doesn’t offer that much pure hilarity by nature, unfortunately. But that might just be my nihilism talking. I’d much rather talk about JoJo’s Bizzare Adventures, where one of my favorite memes come from. In short, the story of JoJo is about……

flgsb6ayx7n8wpk4cg2u
*cue Roundabout*

On New Media Art

I often think back at when I realize that I wanted to become a voice actor, and I’ve been trying to pinpoint exactly what time did I realize that. And while it’s not conclusive, I believe my earliest experience with voice acting came in the form of watching flash animation on Newgrounds. I suppose at the time, I simply wasn’t grasping the idea that you didn’t have to be a big studio at Nickelodeon in order to create animation. I wasn’t even sure what to properly classified as, other than the flash animation. But now I realize, I was getting my first taste of what would later become known as new media art.

Twitter photo safari in class last Tuesday was a nice break from the expected, something that I feel I might remember if the lectures ever escape my memory. It was during this time but I realize that some of the most perfect pictures that I had taken during the photo safari, the spilled pile of blocks for instance, probably were more commonplace than I thought, but I only noticed it as I did because I was actively looking for them. How much more of my potential Twitter safari photos have eluded me in the past week, even? I’m not going to lose sleep over it, but this exercise certainly woken up my inner photographer once again.

But even my own resurgence into new media art is nothing quite like experiencing those of relics past, and doing impromptu research into older media sites felt like a lesson in archeology. While we couldn’t confirm the presence of our site (Electronic Disturbance Theater, which is coincidentally the name of my band) in the present day, the 1998 archive was a relic of prime World Wide Web in the 90s, complete with borderline clip art and multicolored backgrounds. It was a blast from the past in almost every way, and I looked at the design language of modern websites a bit closer in the following days.

The biggest takeaway from this week? I think I’ll be heading back to Newgrounds after all. People have had more time to get good at animation now more so than ever, and apparently there’s still a thriving voice acting community around that might give me the exposure I need to realize my range and types of voices I can really do. New Media Art feels like a bit of an oxymoron by nature, especially when you consider that there is examples of it almost as old as me, so I don’t know, maybe it’s just plain old Media Art for me? But no matter what way I look at it, it’s been a part of my technological lifestyle for quite some time now, and I find it fascinating that it still continues to evolve and grow in ways that were different even a decade ago. I’m sure the next ten years will bring even more forms of new media to light.

On Tracking

For Christmas, I received a Google Home Mini from my godfather. It was one of those items that I always felt like I would want, if I could find a purpose for it. And sure enough, a speaker that can set the alarm, tell me the weather, and of course play music proved to be very functional in my bedroom. But my sisters boyfriend saw something different in the Google Home Mini, something much more sinister.

“Okay Google,” he began. The speaker’s four lights lit up. “Are you sending my information to the NSA?”

“No government entity, US or otherwise, has direct access to our user’s information”, the speaker curtly replied. “Respect for the privacy and security of data you store with Google underpins our approach to producing data in response to legal requests. You can learn more in Google’s transparency report.”

This would’ve been humorous interaction, if were not a very real concern going on right now. Moreso now than ever, software tracking is a very common concern going on with even the most ordinary of citizens. Corporations want to know more about you than ever, and remember, if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide!

Actually, no. That phrase is mostly associated with Joseph Gobbels.

It’s not all malicious, however. Sites like Facebook and Twitter use your personal info to attract content that most likely appeals to you. I like following voice actors on Twitter, so it only makes sense that their tweets and related tweets would pop up in my news feed, right?

And there is the slippery slope. “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” and all of that. When fingerprint scanning and more recently, face scanning became newfound methods to protect our smart devices, people were worried that our biometric data was being transferred to *insert national government organization here*. Unfortunately, this was all while we ignored the things that were actually being sent around on a regular basis:

Image result for android permissions

Does this look familiar? It should, it’s something that typically pops up on an Android device when you install an app. It’s the permissions that the app requests, and it’s permissions that are granted to almost every app on your phone, whether you agree to it or not. Now this isn’t tinfoil hat area; most of these permissions are for basic things that the app needs to function properly. After all, you wouldn’t want your Twitter app to not let you upload photos because you didn’t grant it photo/video permission, right? Unfortunately, some permissions aren’t nearly as transparent, and most of them are from the big names. For instance, if you knew that Google was actively tracking your location even with the permission turned off, that would sound a bit ridiculous, wouldn’t it? But that’s exactly what happened in the past, and while they have renounced that much since then, there’s that sinking feeling that they only did so because they got caught.

Some companies have been changing their attitude towards tracking, most notably Apple in Safari, making it difficult for third-parties to track you. While they have their own share of controversies, this is one area where the double-edged sword is in the favor of the consumer rather than the company, and indeed, some companies have been seriously feeling the burn over this.

But where do we fit into all of this, the grand scheme of the faceless company to know us better than we know ourselves? Do we have any responsibility in the wave of privacy compromises that have become commonplace in our technology?

Yes and no.

Privacy policies along with terms and conditions exist for a reason, and that reason is for companies to be as transparent as possible with you, even when they’re not. Occasionally, some vital privacy issue pops up that may be overlooked, and when something unwanted gets out there, it’s out there.

Image result for this does not let the app post to facebook

How much more stressful can this picture get if the bottom text wasn’t there, reassuring that some things will remain sacred after all?

But also, to an extent, some companies will have tricks up their sleeves in their crusade to try and market themselves to you as much as possible. There’s not much to do in this case…..or is there?n Notifications always have to ask you because chances are they wouldn’t be able to exist if they couldn’t. We’re so used to absentmindedly pressing “Yes” to these notifications and they’re not the most swiftest things to disable afterwards.

Maybe we should take the time.

To re-read these permissions.

To see if that app needs to really give us notifications.

And to worry about our Google Home Mini listening in on more than it should. (Mine is gonna hear mostly angry banter from me when I’m playing online games though, should be a peaceful existence for it).